2 Live Crew
|Luke Skyywalker||Luther R. Campbell|
|Fresh Kid Ice||Chris Wong Won|
|Treach DJ Mr. Mixx||(unknown by author)|
|Brother Marquis||Mark Ross|
Label: Fresh Beat/Macola/Luke Records
2 Live Crew is a rap group. They caused considerable controversy with the sexual themes in their work, particularly on their 1989 album As Nasty As They Wanna Be.
2 Live Crew was created by David "Treach DJ Mr. Mixx" Hobbs in Riverside, California, with fellow rappers Chris (Fresh Kid Ice) Wongwon, and Yuri (Amazing Vee) Vielot. The 3 met at March AFB Riverside, CA, as they were enlisted in the Air Force. Along with giving local parties on and off base, they recorded their first singles through Macola Records Distribution in Los Angeles, California. They released "Revelation" in 1984; the single sold well in Florida, encouraging the group to release What I Like. In 1986, due to the popularity of the new single Throw the D**k, the group, including new member Mark "Brother Marquis" Ross replacing Amazing Vee due to military commitments, relocated to Miami and teamed up with Ghetto Style DJ's and soon to be manager and eventual performer Luther Campbell, who used the nickname "Luke Skyywalker" (and was subsequently sued by George Lucas).
Throw The Dick, with its fast dance tempo, turntable scratching explicit phrases from comedy albums, stuttering voice samples, and the Roland TR-808 drum machine brought a new sound to the group, penned as The Miami Bass Sound. David "Treach DJ Mr. Mixx" Hobbs was credited with the production.
The year 1987 saw the release of The 2 Live Crew Is What We Are, featuring profane and sexually graphic lyrics. Rudy Ray Moore's comedy albums and other XXX assorted comedy albums provided the material for most of the explicit samples that "Mr. Mixx" used. The album was produced by Mr. Mixx. Bob Rosenberg of Will to Power did trick edits on Beat Box and was billed "King of the Edits". The record went gold. Though the controversy did not rise to the levels the group would reach in the future, a Florida store clerk was charged and acquitted of felony charges for selling the album to a fourteen-year-old girl in 1987.
Campbell decided to sell a separate clean version in addition to the explicit version of the next album, Move Somethin' (1988), produced by Mr. Mixx. A record store clerk in Alexander City, Alabama was cited for selling a copy to an undercover police officer in 1988. It was the first time in the United States that a record store owner was held liable for obscenity over music. The charges were dropped after a jury found the record store not guilty.
As Nasty As They Wanna Be (1989) became the group's biggest hit, largely because of the single "Me So Horny", which was popular in spite of little radio rotation, thanks, in part, to prevalent play on MTV. The song was based on a quote from a Vietnamese prostitute in Stanley Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket and took a sample from Mass Production's Firecracker. This album was also produced by Mr. Mixx
The American Family Association did not think the presence of a "Parental Advisory" sticker was enough to adequately warn listeners of what was inside the case. Jack Thompson, a lawyer affiliated with the AFA, met with Florida Governor Bob Martinez and convinced him to look into the album to see if it met the legal classification of obscene. In 1990 action was taken at the local level and Nick Navarro, Broward County sheriff received a ruling from Judge Mel Grossman that probable cause for obscenity violations existed. Navarro warned record store owners that selling the album may be prosecutable. 2 Live Crew filed a suit against Navarro. That June, Judge Jose Gonzalez ruled against the album, declaring it obscene and illegal to sell. Charles Freeman, a local retailer, was arrested two days later, after selling a copy to an undercover police officer. This was followed by the arrest of three members of 2 Live Crew after they performed some material from the album at a live performance. They were acquitted soon after. In 1992, a Court of Appeals overturned the obscenity ruling from Jose Gonzales, and the Supreme Court of the United States refused to hear Broward County's appeal. A notable feature of the case was the distinguished literary critic and now Harvard University professor, Henry Louis Gates, Jr. as an "expert witness" on behalf of the defendants. He argued that the material that the county alleged was profane, actually had important roots in African-American vernacular, games, and literary traditions and should be protected.
As a result of the controversy, As Nasty As They Wanna Be sold over two million copies. It peaked at #29 on The Billboard 200 and #3 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. A few other retailers were later arrested for selling it as well. Later heavy metal band Van Halen sued over an uncleared sample of their song Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love in the 2 Live Crew Song "The Fuck Shop". The publicity then continued when George Lucas, owner of the Star Wars universe, sued Campbell for appropriating the name from his franchise. Campbell changed his stage name to Luke (and changed the record label's name to Luke Records) and then released an extremely political solo album, Banned in the USA after obtaining permission to use an interpolation of Bruce Springsteen's Born in the U.S.A. 2 Live Crew paraphernalia with the Luke Skyywalker or Skyywalker logos are usually sought after as collector's items.